NEW YORK -- Handed a huge lead against a struggling team, Johan Santana simply threw strikes and let 'em hit it.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner rarely has it so easy.
Santana pitched a four-hitter -- with only one strikeout -- for his first shutout in nearly two years, and the Minnesota Twins took advantage of four early errors Tuesday night in a 9-0 rout of the New York Mets.
"Johan deserved that, and our offense needed that," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They were swinging early in the count. Those guys were up there taking their rips against him and that got him deeper and deeper in the game."
Santana (7-6) received a rare burst of run support and was staked to a five-run cushion by the second inning. The left-hander cruised from there, needing only 92 pitches to toss his fourth career shutout and first since Aug. 12, 2005, at Oakland.
Santana walked none and retired 15 of his final 16 batters in his sixth complete game and first since May 17, 2006, at Detroit. He didn't strike out a batter until whiffing Paul Lo Duca for the first out in the ninth.
In 157 career starts, Santana has never failed to strike out a batter. He led the AL in strikeouts each of the last three seasons.
"I wasn't even trying to strike anybody out. I didn't even get to two strikes," Santana said. "I'll trade my strikeouts for all those kind of outs right there because it's quicker."
The shutout was bad news for Twins broadcaster and former big league pitcher Bert Blyleven, however. While riding the team bus to the ballpark before the game, Blyleven challenged Santana to throw a shutout and said he'd shave his own head if the pitcher turned the trick.
"I think he's trying to hide right now," Santana said with a smile. "Believe me, tomorrow it's going to happen. ... Hopefully by game time he'll be bald."
The slumping Mets managed only four singles and never advanced a runner past second base in losing for the 12th time in 15 games. They followed their best game in weeks, an 8-1 victory Monday night, with one of their worst performances all season.
By the third inning, Santana was smiling and laughing on the mound during a chat with catcher Joe Mauer. But this one was no fun for the Mets -- an angry David Wright fired his glove into the dugout as he came off the field in the fifth, moments after committing his second error of the game. The third baseman then stomped up the tunnel and disappeared from view.
New York's four errors -- all in the first five innings -- doubled its previous season high for a game.
"When you play sloppy defense, you don't give yourself a chance to win," Wright said. "With the big lead, he challenged us, let us hit it to the big part of the ballpark."
Minnesota totaled only six runs in Santana's three starts since his previous win May 28 against the Chicago White Sox. He was 0-2 in those outings.
Santana improved to 15-4 in interleague play and 3-0 with an 0.82 ERA in three starts against the Mets.
"We hit the ball hard -- 10 or 12 balls were hit right at somebody," said Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran, who made a key throwing error in the second. "Hopefully, tomorrow we can find the same energy and win the series."
Sosa gave up seven runs -- five earned -- and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings, his shortest stint in nine starts since he was called up from the minors. It was his second consecutive rough outing after opening 6-1.
"He left some balls up in the zone and he paid for it," Mets manager Willie Randolph said.
- Santana doubled in the fifth for his first career extra-base hit. He came to the plate five times -- quite a rarity for an AL pitcher -- and finished 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.
- Mets RHP Pedro Martinez threw 55 pitches at the team's complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in his fifth bullpen session since shoulder surgery.
- Cuddyer extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI infield single in the fifth.
- Mets SS Jose Reyes pushed his hitting streak to 10 games with a ninth-inning single.
- The Mets committed at least four errors for the first time since making five on July 18, 2003, at Atlanta.
- New York is 4-6 this season when its opponent starts a former Cy Young Award winner.
- It was Minnesota's third shutout this year, while the Mets were blanked for the second time. The other was May 30 against San Francisco.